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Published: June 10th 2006
Towards the end of my stay in Australia, I was thinking I would need to do an adventure of some kind in that country before my departure from it. So where should I go? Indeed, just months before June 2006, I started to explore some options, such as going to Karijini National Park in Western Australia. However, I soon realised that I was facing a number of constraints that would prevent me from going that far. I had to find a trip that would be i) within my budget and ii) easily accessible by public transport (as I don't drive).
So some time around May I had read something about the Indian-Pacific Railway, which travels across Australia. Promptly I started wondering whether I should try this one. So I began some research, and not much later, I found myself booked on to the train journey through the internet.
Back to the trip itself. The journey started from Central Station in Sydney. One would easily reckon the train because it reads Indian Pacific on it. Before I boarded the train, I would expect it to be another long distance train that is similar to the ones I have taken
A very long train
in China or Europe. However, I was simply wrong. This is a luxury one that especially caters tourists, or train lovers for that matter.
Because I got a concession ticket, I would try the Gold Kangaroo Service, which is equivalent to First Class, for a price which is for the Red Kangaroo one. Not until I boarded the train did I find the hugh differences between the two classes: the two classes are separated, I got my own bedroom, fine meals are served along the trip for Gold passengers... Anyway, the lady who greeted me onto the train looked a bit surprised when she found I was so young to travel on this train. I did not know if I was in the right place, and I was thinking,"maybe it is for the retired people, like a cruise ship."
The train pulled out of Sydney Central on time. Within an hour, the suburbs of Sydney had passed and we were approaching the Blue Mountains. Once there, it would be another thousand plus kilometers before we reached another densely populated area, which is Adelaide. The journey to Perth, however, would take a whole four days.
There was nothing
Inside the Train
Gold Kangaroo Class
to see at night outside the window. Even the occasional lights were so sparse that I could clearly see the stars in the sky. This is a testimony of how empty Australia is. And it is what would be with me in the next three days.
Fortunately, there were complimentary meal services in the dining car, and meal times were good chances to meet and talk to people. Indeed, my whole second day afternon was spent in the dining car having a conversation with another passenger about the development in China. But what was most memorable to me was a couple aged 90, who were taking this train and the Ghan to Darwin. I think I will be very glad if I can live to 90 and am still be able to travel!
In the early morning in Day 2, the train called at Broken Hill. There was a chance for passengers to join a local tour, but for some reasons I did not do the tour. The train then continued in the desert and by mid-afternnon, we reached Adelaide. The stop in Adelaide was for a few hours because it is the interchange station for the Ghan,
A mining town
which is another sightseeing train travelling north to Darwin. Many people on board from Sydeny were actually going to Darwin, so in Adelaide, I saw many new faces joining our journey to Perth.
After Adelaide, the train entered the longest straight rail line on earth. The line crosses the desert from South Australia to Western Australia. There was nothing to see outside the window except the bush. Occasionally, we could spot one or two wild animals, but besides that, it was all desert. In the afternoon of Day 3, we stopped at a refuelling station called Cook. The population of the town is two and I think it is the closest to the description "in the middle of nowhere."
We arrived Perth in the morning in Day 4, after calling at Kalgoorlie the night before. Entering the city, I was feeling a bit excited. After all, I had not seen people outside the train for a whole two days. And then, although the Indian Pacific is a comfortable train, I would like to have a good shower after such a long journey.
I did a tour of Perth after disembarking, and I went to places like King's
Park. On the another day, I took a ferry to Rottnest Island and Fremantle to do a bit sightseeing, before ending my trip and flying back to Melbourne, where I also spent a little time there.
To conclude, the Indian Pacific is a train journey a serious traveller should consider trying. It takes one to the part of Australia that is empty, wild or even hostile. This is where the true Outback lies. Looking at the desert from the train, one could realise how tiny we human are compared to the nature. And looking at nature for four full days is a good process to let one think and rediscover himself.
Tot: 0.833s; Tpl: 0.089s; cc: 9; qc: 51; dbt: 0.048s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb